Inspiration Corner

Maria Toorpakay – Braver than Malala?

“Courage: the most important of all the virtues because without courage, you can’t practice any other virtue consistently.” - Maya Angelou

Courage has many forms. It is not just limited to soldiers staring right in the enemy’s eye at war. The greatest form of courage is when you are standing up for the things that you believe in despite knowing the consequences.

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A little girl believed that she had the right to receive education and she stood up for it. She knew that living in the place and breathing in the environment she was raised in, it was not going to be an easy task. But she did not let her resolve falter. Every step of the way she had to struggle in order to gain what should not have been denied to her in the first place; the basic human right to gain education. Everything that followed, made headlines all over the world and the little Malala Yousufzai became a symbol of hope for all the millions out there who thought that hope was a far fetched dream.

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Maria Toorpakay is not a name well known, but regardless, deserves as much admiration and appreciation as Malala Yousufzai. Hailing from South Waziristan, this young woman was born with a passion in her heart for sports and a thirst for proving that she was not less than any man in the field. For the first few years of her life, she competed in sporting events and competitions as a boy because the involvement of girls in sports was highly frowned upon from where she hailed. The local Islamic culture held her back from fulfilling her dream of pursuing a professional athletic career. When the truth about her gender came out at the age of 16, she was subjected to cruel and unmerited hatred, harassment and bullying. But she still did not let it slow her down. She kept on making efforts in order to pursue her dream and is currently known as Pakistan’s top female squash player and ranked number 49th in the world rankings.

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People might question as to why these two cases are compared. One was a girl who stood up for education while the other just wanted to play her favorite sport. The bigger picture they fail to see is that despite the difference in their situations, they were united by one single factor; Courage. Both of these young women were brave enough to stand up for their dreams. They were threatened, judged and shunned for their need to want more than they were allowed. They realized that no dream is small or big enough and invested all their energy into proving it to the world.

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Exposure and coverage are mere words that are tossed around when cynics have nothing better to do. The real essence lies in realizing and looking at the bigger picture. As long as people like these exist in the world, hope is still alive. Hope that someone is somewhere out there trying to make things different, to make things better. The more these people are lauded the less it seems because there are no awards, no words of appreciation, and no rounds of applause that can ever add up to the agony and pain these people go through in order to achieve their goals


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